Uploaded on Apr 16, 2009
475g "Strong" flour (Bread flour not plain)
275ml warm water, don't go above 40degC
10g dry yeast (or 35g compressed)
2 Tbsp Butter (would prefer butter over margarine if you have it handy)
2 tsp Honey
1 tsp Salt
Optional (I do it anyway)
1/2 Tbsp "Bread Improver" (also known as yeast nutrient) its artificial but makes a huge difference to the final product
3 tsp "Vital Gluten" or Gluten Flour (this is treated flour that improves bread texture, increases gluten content).
First, activate your yeast (even compressed) by combining the yeast and honey with about 60ml or so of the water from the 275ml water in a small container. Let this sit until there is a nice foam on the top.
Now, in a bowl (or dough hook mixer) add the butter to the flour, salt and wheatgerm and mix thouroughly until the mix begins resembling bread crumbs, make sure the butter is well mixed through. Add in the improver and gluten now if you intend to use it.
Pour in the activated yeast mix and add about 90% of the remaining water and begin kneeding/mixing. This is the part where experience matters. You want a soft, but not sticky dough. It should be at the point just before being sticky, add more of the water until its no longer too dry. If its too dry sprinkle small amounts of flour in until its lost its sticky edge.
Now, kneed that dough. The more you kneed it the more gluten is activated leading to a softer "elastic" bread (i.e. the opposite of cake like), I recommend a good 5 mins of kneeding first time round. Now put in a bowl and cover with cling wrap and let the dough "prove" in a warm place until it has doubled in volume don't rush it, and don't think "that's enough" when it hasn't doubled. Personally, I prove my bread on my Cisco router in the cupboard, its the absolute perfect temperature year round (about 40DegC) which results in a quick prove. If its not rising either the yeast is old and dead or its not warm enough (or you found somewhere too hot).
Once doubled, knock it back and kneed some more. I only kneed about 2 or so mins second time round, this activates even more of the gluten (don't worry you arent "wasting" the yeast, its a living thing and multiplies as long as it doesn't get too hot yeast hibernates in the cool, thrives in the warm but dies in the hot). And this time let the dough relax for 5 mins before balling.
Oil/paper your bread tin so it doesn't stick.
Divide your dough into quarters (I use a scale for accuracy) and ball them up, there is a technique using the heel of your palm to push the dough on the bench, its a good one to learn. Do not ball into a sphere, but ball into a sausage shape as long as the bread tin is wide. Put the dough in the bread tin and let prove till it has risen to near the top of the tin, again patience is key. If you like a square loaf you can put a baking tray on top of the bread tin with some oven proof bowls to keep the dough from rising above the rim forming a square loaf.
Heat your oven to 200DegC and put the bread in for 30 mins or until the loaf sounds hollow (tap it with a knife handle).
Always let the bread sit for 10 mins or so before eating or else it will tear and fall apart. Enjoy.